Ethiopia’s rising star Roza Dereje is the one to beat at the Barcelona half Marathon

The 22-year-old Roza Dereje won last year with a 1:06:01 lifetime best and seems ready to improve on that performance. She also bettered her marathon career best thanks on  December 1 to 2:18:30 to win the Valencia Marathon. That time placed her among the top-ten on the all-time world list.

“I want to run as fast as possible on Sunday,” Dereje said. “I have my own dream and a clear goal in terms of clocking but I need to see how I feel on the race day. If the weather is fine I hope you all can enjoy something special.”

The world record is 1:04:51 set by Kenya’s Joyciline Jepkosgei in Valencia in 2017. Dereje will be paced by her compatriot Daniel Feyisa.

Her stiffest opponent should be fellow Ethiopian Zeineba Yimer who holds the quickest time among the entrants, 1:05:46 for third at Ras Al Khaimah exactly one year ago. The 21-year-old made a remarkable marathon debut in Valencia last December clocking 2:19:28 for fifth, the same place she managed at the last World Half Marathon Championships also held in Valencia. Yimer enjoyed a fine 2019, clocking a 10,000m career best of 30:46:24 in Hengelo and a winning 46:52 time at the Valencia 15km in June.

Kenya’s Dorcas Kimeli should also be a factor. The 22-year-old belongs to the exclusive sub-30 minute 10km club, breaking that barrier in Prague last September when she ran an impressive 29:57 to finish second. More recently, Kimeli finished second in a cross country race in Thika where she beat world half marathon record holder Joyciline Jepkosgei by a couple of seconds.

Germany’s Melat Kejeta will try to give a scare to the theoretical podium placers. The 28-year-old Ethiopian-born runner boasts a 1:08:41 best for the distance and made a solid marathon debut in Berlin last September clocking 2:23:57.

Two other women have dipped under 70 minutes, Germany’s Alina Reh and Britain’s Charlotte Arter. Reh, a multiple European U20 and U23 champion with a 1:09:31 best, will contest her third race over the distance while Arter, 28, returns to the setting of her 1:09:41 best.

posted Friday February 14th
by World Athletics